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Home: All Other Football Interests: Obituaries and Remembrances:
Johnny Hubbard M.B.E. (Rangers, Bury, Ayr)

 



John Treleven
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Aug 5, 2018, 10:51 AM

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HUBBARD
John Gaulton

born 1st December 1930 Pretoria, South Africa
died 21st June 2018 Prestwick, aged 87

Municipals (Northern Transvaal)
Glasgow Rangers June 1949
Scottish League XI 1955-56
Anglo-South African XI March 1956
Bury June 1959 (109/29)
Ayr United June 1962 - May 1964


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Aug 6, 2018, 9:23 AM

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JOHNNY Hubbard who has died aged 87, after a final few months under the debilitating influence of dementia, will forever be known as “Scotland's Penalty King”; indeed, when he wrote his autobiography in 2015, he chose as its title: 'The Penalty King.'

But, there was more to “Hubbie” than the fact he scored 60 of the 63 penalties he took for Rangers, between taking over as penalty-taker during the club's North American summer tour in 1954, and leaving the club in 1958. He would, after hanging-up his boots, embark on a hugely-successful career as a community sports officer in his adopted home of Prestwick, while his sporting prowess was also demonstrated on the cricket square and the tennis court.

He was born in Pretoria, the fifth and youngest child of Raymond, who worked for South African Railways and Johanna. His parents divorced when Johnny was 12 and he was brought-up by his mother, and their African house-maid,Martha.

He played football and cricket for Berea Park, a local club in Pretoria, then, while at \Pretoria Boys High School, he won his first sports trophies, in the North Transvaal Schools tennis championships. He was just 16 when he made his senior debut for Berea Park, going on to be selected for the Northern Transvaal provincial team. Huddersfield Town wanted to sign him, but, he rejected the chance to go to England, feeling he was still too young.

He moved on from Berea Park, to Arcadia, then Municipals, the leading side in Pretoria. He had, on leaving school, followed his father into the railways, but quickly left to work in a sports shop, before, when moving to Municipals – the local council team - he had to take a council job, as a labourer on the roads.

But, he did not spend long with Municipals, before, encouraged by another South African player, Billy Arniston, who was with them, Rangers offered the 18-year-old Hubbard, his return flights to Glasgow, a £100 signing-on fee and his digs paid, for a three-month trial at £12 per week.

On 17 July, 1949, after rejecting a better offer from Clyde than that he had received from Rangers, Johnny flew to Scotland.

Over the next ten years he would play 300 games for Rangers, scoring 129 goals, 60 of them from the penalty spot. These goals included his famous hat-trick against Celtic in 1955 – the only one scored for Rangers, by a non-Scot in an Old Firm game. He made his debut against Partick Thistle, on 10 September, 1949, his last against Motherwell, at Fir Park, on 29 November, 1958.

Along the way, he won three League Championship medals, in 1952-53, 1955-56 and 1956-57, and one Scottish Cup-winner's medal, in 1952-53. He also did two years' National Service in the Royal Air Force.

He also won four “caps” for the Scottish League XI in season 1955-56, playing against the Irish League, the League of Ireland, the Danish League – against whom he scored and the (English) Football League.

Later that season, in March, 1956, he played against Scotland, in a non-cap international for “South Africa” in reality a team of UK-based South African players against a “Scotland XI” in an Ibrox match played to raise funds for the UK team to travel to Melbourne for the 1956 Olympic Games.

With no Rangers players in the “Scotland” team, the Rangers' fans who thronged into Ibrox supported South Africa, whose team included, in addition to Johnny Hubbard, Don Kitchenbrand, the Rangers' centre forward.

Johnny would admit, he almost worshipped Bill Struth, the Rangers manager who, after watching him in a solo training session on his first day in Scotland, immediately signed him on a full-time contract and tripled his signing-on fee. But, he had a less-easy relationship with his successor, Scot Symon. Indeed, after leaving Rangers for Bury, in 1959, he said: “I never left Rangers, I left Scot Symon.” He felt, perhaps correctly, he still, notwithstanding the emergence of the young Davie Wilson, had something to offer to the club.

He played over 100 games for Bury during his time at Gigg Lane, before returning to Scotland to play out his career with Ayr United, before settling in Prestwick, where he ran a shop, before, after a short spell as a Redcoat at the local Butlins holiday camp, and a stint as a PE teacher, he got a job with the local council as a Sports Development Officer.

In this capacity, his management of five-a-side tournaments and his coaching of youngsters had a terrific effect in making football popular in Ayr ad Prestwick. When the Dam Park Hall was demolished, he continued to run five-a-side leagues at a local complex for many years. But, he was also hugely-influential in local tennis, while also coaching badminton, gymnastics and golf.

He was also a long-term member of Prestwick Cricket Club, and was Captain in 1984. One recalls one English player with local rivals Ayr, who had played Minor Counties cricket in England, snorting disparagingly, as he watched Johnny bowling, and relishing the runs he would score off the South African's “donkey drops.” In he went, only to be back in the pavilion three balls later, totally bemused by Hubbard.

Johnny was also a popular visitor and match-day host at Ibrox, where he enjoyed meeting-up with old team mates, such as Northern Irishman Billy Simpson, who had scored a lot of his goals from Hubbard crosses. The two were lifelong friends, sticking together as the only two “foreigners” in the Rangers squad of the time.

He married Glasgow girl Ella Black in 1951, and they had three children, Linda, Raymond – who followed his father into PE teaching and was a well-known marathon runner, and John, all of whom survive him.

He was inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame in 2008, a fitting honour for a man who was considered during his playing career to be the best Rangers outside left since Alan Morton. His long years of service with the local authority were marked by an honorary MBE, an honour of which he was very proud. He wrote his autobiography, along with Rangers official club Historian David Mason. The book was very well received containing as it did many of the great stories of his time in his native South Africa and in his adopted Scotland. Among his other attributes, he was a very funny man, with a wealth of great stories.

Spitting Image once did a song: “I've never met a nice South African.” Clearly, they never met Johnny Hubbard, all-round sportsman, all-round good guy, but, an immortal as Scotland's undisputed Penalty King.

The Herald

 
 


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